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To make the most of this tutorial I suggest you follow through it while sitting in front

of a computer with Microsoft Excel running. This will allow you to try things out as

you follow along. This tutorial requires that you already have a basic working

knowledge for using the computer. I wrote this tutorial with reference to the 2002

version of Microsoft Excel, however, most of what is covered here will work pretty

much the same in all versions back to Excel 97. Additionally, while I am using

Windows XP, you should find that most Excel commands are essentially the same

on a Mac operating system.

I use the following conventions when referring to commands Edit > Find means

select Find from the Edit menu. Ctrl-C means depress the control and c key at the

same time. Similarly, Alt-Ctrl-C means press all three keys at once. Remember that

there are usually several ways to accomplish any one command, personally I use

the right click on my mouse and speed keys for most tasks. However, for this tutorial

I will make extensive use of the menus as most beginners seem to prefer this

method.

A spread sheet looks a lot like a table you might see in any word processing

package, but it has some very important features that most tables do not. The first is

that it is designed to make repetitive and/or complicated calculations very easy to

carry out. Secondly, most spreadsheet programs have advanced graphing

capabilities that make producing graphs from the data on the spread sheet relatively

simple.

While Excel is a very popular spreadsheet program, it is by no means the only one

that will do the job. This document is designed to aid biology students with their first

few spreadsheet applications. Excel and most other spreadsheet programs are very

powerful applications with far too many features to learn all in one sitting. If you are

interested in learning more advanced techniques I direct you to the help menu or to

consider purchasing one of many how to books.

In Excel each document is referred to as a workbook. Within each workbook you

can have any number of spread sheets, the default is three but you can add as

many sheets as you find necessary. At any given time, only one sheet is active in

your work book. It is important to note that most page formatting options apply only

to the sheet you are working with (for example, margins, headers and footers etc.).

Additionally, when you print, the default for Excel is to only print the sheet that is

active.

The Excel window.

In Figure 1, a typical Excel window is pictured. Some of the toolbars shown may not

be currently visible. You can change which toolbars are visible in the View menu.

Toolbar views are toggle switches, if they are currently on and you select them they

will turn off, and vice versa. If you can not currently see one of the toolbars pictured

in Figure 1, turn it on now. Refer to Table 1 for brief descriptions of the toolbars

displayed in Figure 1.

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Title

Menu

Formatting

Standard

Formula

Cell (A1)

Tab

(active sheet)

Status

Toolbar Name

Usage

Title Bar

Menu Bar

Formatting Toolbar

Standard Toolbar

some special tools for Excel.

Formula Bar

Two important fields, the left field shows the cell address

of the cell your cursor is currently located in.

The right field displays the 'actual' contents of the cell, this

field is especially important when you are entering

formulas.

Tab Bar

is always highlighted.

Status Bar

The spread sheet itself is laid out as a table made up of columns and rows. Each

column has a letter reference (A, B, C) and each row has a number reference (1,

2, 3). Each square in the spread sheet represents the intersection of 1 row and 1

column and is referred to as a cell. Cells are referenced according to the row and

column intersection. For example: cell A1 is the cell in column A and row 1. This

unique row and column reference of a cell is referred to as its 'address'. One of the

beauties of spread sheets is that once a datum, label or formula is entered into a

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unique cell in the spread sheet, the contents of the cell can then be used elsewhere

in the program simply by referencing the cell address.

Entering data or labels into cells is simple, just move the cursor to the cell you wish

to enter your datum, click to select the cell, enter your datum, and press enter. It's

important to note that you must press 'enter'; otherwise the spread sheet does not

recognize that you have entered data. If you wish to enter a series of numbers you

can speed up the process by using the auto fill capability.

To use auto fill, enter the first two numbers in the series in adjoining cells. Now

select both cells, grab the common handle (the little black box in the bottom right

hand corner of the selected cells) and drag down as far as needed. You should now

have a series of numbers, following the pattern of the first two you entered. This

trick will work for letters and formulas as well as numbers, and works for columns as

well as rows.

Handle

For example; if you sampled every 30 sec, enter 30 sec in A1 and 60 sec

in A2. Select both cells, grab the handle and drag down to cell A8. You

should now have a series of numbers, each 30 more than the one above

it, as picture in the right hand screen shot.

To resize columns and rows, click in the header cell to select the column or row and

drag the margin. Or, right click the header cell and select the column width, row

height option.

Hundreds of options exist for formatting cells. Most of these are accessed by

selecting the cells you wish to format, right clicking, and selecting the format cells

option. Especially check out the options in the Number and Alignment tabs.

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To format cells, select, right click, and click the 'format cells' option.

Auto fill is activated by selecting the cells 'handle'.

To alter page format for printing, use File>PageSetup,

Entering formulas

There are two ways to enter formulas in Excel, either use one of the functions

already programmed in Excel, or enter your own from scratch.

Entering your own formula

To enter your own formula start by typing an equal sign (this tells Excel you are

entering a formula) and then entering the formula using operands and operators.

Standard arithmetic operators are listed in Table 1, but many others are available.

Operands can either be numbers you enter, or can be cell references. To enter a

cell reference into a formula either type it, or click the cell.

Table 2. Arithmetic operators.

Arithmetic operator

Meaning (example)

+ (plus sign)

Addition (3+3)

- (minus sign)

Subtraction (3-1)

*(asterisk)

Multiplication (3*3)

/ (forward slash)

Division (3/3)

% (percent sign)

Percent (20%)

^ (caret)

Exponentiation (3^2)

When using operators in your formulas, keep in mind that Excel follows an order of

operation as summarized in Table 3. If a formula contains operators with the same

precedence Excel evaluates the operators from left to right. To override operator

precedence, use parenthesis. For more information on entering your own formulas

check in; Excel Help>Contents> creating and correcting formulas.

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Precedence

Operator

Description

: (colon)

(single space)

, (comma)

Reference operators

Negation (as in 1)

Percent

Exponentiation

* and /

+ and

&

Comparison

The easiest way to understand the implementation of Excel functions is by following

a step by step example. To access Excel's functions, click the down arrow next to

the sum button. As shown in Figure 3, this gives you a popup menu showing the five

most common Excel functions, and below these, a menu choice titled 'More

Functions". Note that selecting one of the five functions in the pop up menu will work

differently then selecting them from the "More Functions" menu.

In this first example we will calculate the sum of a series of numbers.

series of numbers as pictured in

Figure 3. Place your cursor in

cell A7. Select sum from the list

of functions that appears when

you click the down arrow next to

the sum button (or click the sum

button). Excel tries to guess the

cells you wish to sum up.

Generally it will select all the

cells containing numerical data

immediately next to the cell you

are inserting the function into.

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Excel has chosen in 2 ways.

They will be enclosed in a

marching dash box, and the

range is displayed in the

function window. In this case

Excel has chosen the correct

data. You can always override

by selecting the cells yourself,

or typing the correct range in

the function window.

have been chosen, press enter.

The sum will appear in cell A7.

Note that when you select cell

A7, the function appears in the

function window, but the result

will still appear in the cell on the

spread sheet

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In this second example, we will calculate the standard deviation for the same

numbers used in the sum example.

Step 1. Place your cursor in cell A8.

From the function pop up menu

choose more functions.

Functions', you will get a new

window where you can either

search for the function by name, or

select a category, and then scroll

down looking for the function. Notice

the description of the selected

function appears near the bottom of

the window. Enter 'standard

deviation' in the search window and

click 'Go'. Select the function

STDEV.

the function you want, you will get

yet a new window called 'Function

Arguments '. Here the program is

looking for the address, or actual

numbers, you want the function to

use. You can either enter the cells

addresses manually, or select the

cells, using click and drag. Go back

to the spread sheet and select the

cells A1 through A6. Your Function

Arguments window should now look

like the one in Figure 7. Select OK.

Cell A8 will now show the standard

deviation (4.1833) for cells A1

through A6.

Often, you will want to apply the same formula to a series of cell. Enter the weight

data as shown in Figure 8 (don't enter the mean weight). Use Excel's average

function to calculate the average for sample 1. Now, grab the cell handle for Sample

1 mean weight and drag down four cells. Go back and click in the cell for the mean

weight of sample 2. Notice that the formula bar, the function is still AVERAGE, but

the cell reference has moved down one row (in my example it would now read

B5:E5). This is referred to as relative addressing and it is the default method Excel

applies to copying formulas.

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Occasionally you will need to make an absolute reference to a cell. To do this, add

dollar signs to the cell reference. In my example I need to correct the mean weight

of all the samples by multiplying it by the Z factor of 1.0035, which is entered in cell

1I. To do this, I enter a formula, as shown in the formula bar of Figure 9, using $I$1

to reference the Z factor. Now, when I auto fill, all mean values are multiplied by the

value 1.0035. Give it a try, and see what happens when you don't use the absolute

reference.

Box 2. Entering formulas.

Case is not important when entering the formula.

Cells containing non numerical entrees will be ignored in calculations.

Excel functions are listed in; Excel Help>Contents>Function Reference

The default for auto filling formulas is to use relative addressing.

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Graphing

Excel has the capability of making many different styles of graphs. The following

example will show you how to make a scatter plot, add a linear regression trend line,

and how to fine tune the graphs appearance.

Making a scatter plot.

Graph

Wizard

set of data for establishing a

standard curve. Enter the data

into Excel as picture in Figure 10.

Now click the chart wizard

button.

Click the XY scatter plot button.

Do not use line graph, this will not

give us what we want.

Select the first option for graph

sub-type (the one with just dots,

no line drawn), and click next.

chart type.

data you wish to use. It may or

may not guess correctly. To check

what data has been selected,

click the series tab.

The series window is also where

you would go to add more data.

Don't worry about the series name

for now.

source data.

Page 9 of 13

red arrow next to the X value

window. This button takes you

back to the spreadsheet. The data

being used as X values will be in

a marching dash box. If you need

to change the data being used,

just select it. Similarly, check the

Y data.

Remember, your X axis is

always the controlled variable

(in this case the protein

concentration).

Figure 12. Excel's Chart Wizard, step 2, selecting the

source data.

This button appears in many Excel source data windows, clicking it will always take

you back to the spread sheet, allowing you to select cells for input.

Clicking this button will take you back to source data window you started from.

Step 3. When you are satisfied

with the data being used, click

next. This takes you to the Chart

Options window. Notice the

multiple tabs for formatting your

graph.

and a chart title.

In the Gridlines tab, remove the

major gridlines.

Since there is only one series, go

to the legend tab and remove the

legend.

Click next.

Step4. Choose where to place your chart in the work book. It's usually best to use the

default, object in sheet, as the graph appears next to your data.

Page 10 of 13

350

300

OD600

250

200

150

100

50

0

0

10

15

20

[protein] mg/ml

Page 11 of 13

Pretty much anything you like can be modified in your graph, such as; changing the

coloured background, change the default tick marks position and intervals, change

the symbols used etc. To make changes, usually you can just double click the

region of the graph you want to change. For example, to get rid of the ugly grey

background seen in Figure 14, double click the background and change area to

none. Click a variety of positions on the chart and see what happens. Select the

chart and right click to get some other options including, reselecting the source data,

chart type and chart options. Also, with the chart selected, note that a new menu

called Chart, appears in the menu bar. We will use this menu to add a trendline.

Adding a trendline to a graph.

Select the chart (make sure the chart is selected, not just the graph) and the Chart

menu appears. Select Chart>Add Trendline. The window pictured in Figure 15 will

now appear. Select the Linear regression type and then switch to the Options Tab.

Select 'Display equation on chart', and 'Display R-squared value on chart'.

Figure 16 pictures the same graph as seen in Figure 15, but after cleaning it up and

adding the trendline.

Page 12 of 13

Select the data series to which you want to add error bars. To do this, click on of the

points on the graph belonging to the data series. On the Format menu, click

Selected Data Series. On the X Error Bars tab or the Y Error Bars tab, select the

options you want.

Box 3. Graphing basics.

changes you make to the data used to create the graph.

To modify most things on your graph either right click the chart, or double

click the element you wish to change.

To access chart specific menus, the chart must be selected.

Page 13 of 13

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